The Union is a new addition to the Airush lineup for 2016 and is billed as an all-round machine for the intermediate to advanced rider. As the name suggests the kite is something of an amalgamation with elements from the Lithium, Wave and Razor models being brought to the drawing board, and the Union bringing them all together with a huge dose of its own zest being added to the mix.
Airush has a reputation for well-built, high-end products and that’s all apparent as soon as you remove the Union from the bag. Top-notch components, solid build quality and clear attention to detail.
The fabric uses Teijin’s renowned Technoforce D2 with Airush’s Dyneema Load Frame giving the best option in durability coupled with reduced weight. Changing from Aramid to Dyneema for their Load Frame this year to give an even longer life-span, better UV resistance, lighter overall weight and extra strength – all this showing that Airush is committed to constant improvements in their product technology, and also that this new model is the best it can be.
There are reinforced patches at key areas along the leading edge, a high-volume one-pump single point inflation system, and the Unity Strut Connection that provides a stiffer structure to aid relaunch and performance.
All-in-all the Union is a solid bit of kit and we couldn’t wait to get out on the water and have it in the air!
Sizes: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16m
The Core Bar is a smart component of this Union package and has been designed to require zero adjustments for those that want the ‘plug and play’ aspect, yet gives full versatility to tweak and modify for those that like to tailor and fiddle. With some simple adjustments, the bar can be four different lengths. So one bar can comfortably be used with everything from the smallest to largest kite in your quiver without any setbacks. Ideal for those who like to use different size bars, but also keep the luggage mass down when travelling.
The grooved pattern on the bar is surprisingly comfortable while giving excellent grip, and the slightly narrower diameter adds to the overall sleek feel.
The depower lines feature a PU coating, which personally I’m a fan of, and not only for the durability factor – it’s also good at eliminating some of the rope burn risk when performing tricks with your fingers either side of the centre lines!
A standard push-away quick release maintains familiarity and colour coded lines keeps things simple and safe. It’s rugged, yet tactile, beefy in its sturdiness while remaining slender and neat, and feels ‘just right’ when it’s in your hands.
The 7m Union made it’s way into our hands by something of an accident when we arrived in Perth to mega winds and were under-prepared with 9m as our smallest beast. The kind fellows at Auswind didn’t hesitate in loaning us the kite, and so our love affair began…with the kite I should swiftly add, we wouldn’t want any Auswind employee WAGS getting upset!
Some epic sessions at Woodman’s Point ensued and the stability, responsiveness and versatility soon became apparent. (There we go with that ‘versatile’ word again, it’s certainly a recurrent theme with this kite!)
The 7m was a joy to ride in the butter flat waters, instilling confidence with the handling and the reactive feeling at the bar letting you know where it was at all times. Somehow, despite being a small kite it didn’t perform like a whippet and catch you off guard, that being said the playful nature of the kite shone through and you could tell it would behave well in the waves too.
Turning speed is good while remaining controlled, again a characteristic that lends itself to waves, and made loading up the kite for big airs an absolute doddle.
The high-performance nature of the Union continues when unhooking, and I was surprised with how much fun and, dare I say it,’ easy’, it was on the 7m - a clear indication of just how balanced this kite is. Somehow it encourages you to push your riding, try new things and want to get out of your comfort zone, while bizarrely feeling ‘safe’ in the process. Don’t let that fool you into believing this is some kind of softy though; it’s got an eager, fireball side and that’s what keeps the desire for more burning.
As it had indicated, the Union’s demeanour in the waves was as accomplished and multi-talented as it had been with the freestyle flat water sessions. The direct steering enabling you to get down and dirty hitting the lips and carving out the bottom turns, even when the kite is depowered.
We were very impressed with the Union’s range – one of the team loved the kite so much she insisted on using it in some ‘borderline’ 9m-11m conditions and we fully expected to be rescuing her way downwind. It never happened and left us all rather gob-smacked!
I suppose we should mention relaunch too, but it’s so easy you forget you ever have to do it…
Everything – it’s an awesome kite, a fantastic complete package and the Union does perform in any conditions and with any style you care to throw at it. Build quality is uncompromising and you will be pushing yourself, and the kite, to ever-higher levels of riding with confidence that it can handle it.
We really struggled to find anything ‘against’ the Union. Often with a ‘do-it-all’, offering there are areas where it’s slightly lacking and you can appreciate where a specific discipline kite would fill that minor void, however, we never quite found it with the Union.
It really is a one kite does it all winner (and with the adjustable bar, it’s a one-bar winner too!) Fun, playful, yet stable and encouraging, good-looking and light-weight with no compromise on strength and durability.
If we try to address the kites broad capabilities, Mark Pattison, Kite Designer at Airush, sums it up perfectly: “ It is a fantastic kite for any more aggressive or avid rider that is looking for an all-around kite. This kite is a favourite for those who go out on a surfboard for an hour session, swap out for boots and a Livewire – have a freestyle or wakestyle session, then end the day off with big kite loops. It simply does a bit of everything from wave riding, unhooking and boosting.”
So, if, like me, you have a touch of ADHD coupled with some FOMO, always wanting to do a bit of everything and dart from one thing to the next having the best of all worlds, then the Union is going to be your perfect companion - and will excel at it.
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This review was in Issue 56 of IKSURFMAG.For more information visit Airush
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By Mary BoothMary has been kitesurfing since 2006, she became and instructor in 2007 and travelled the world teaching the sport that she loves! She joined the IKSURFMAG team in 2008 and has been testing ladies kitesurfing equipment and writing articles from a woman's perspective ever since!